Displaying 1 - 10 of 1023 entries.

Multiracial characters in books

  • Posted on June 13, 2015 at 3:16 PM

Where are the books with multiracial characters? How are these books being tracked? Why does it seem like this form of diversity is ignored and dismissed? I started asking teachers at my school just how many students they thought were biracial or multiracial. They were surprised because that wasn’t a category they considered. Some said 5-10%. None of them really worried about the category because as one teacher said to me, “Most of the kids would just choose to be black.” Stop and think about what such a statement means. If you were to say this when the student was in front of you, what impact and what message would this send?

Timothy and Anthony Chen

My Beautiful Boys

I have two biracial/multiracial sons. Their father is Chinese. My heritage includes Norwegian, Dutch, French, Scots-Irish – the typical northwest Iowa mashup. I’ll never forget the day when my oldest son answered someone who asked what race he was, that he was Norwegian. The expression on their face was priceless.

In February the Cooperative Children’s Book Center had released  “Children’s Books by and about People of Color Published in the United States” Statistics Gathered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Each year they analyze the books they receive for non-white diversity and categorize them into these four racial categories: African Americans; American Indians; Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans; Latinos.

Debbie Reese at her blog analyzed this in relationship to which books were about Native Americans and which were written and or illustrated by Native Americans.   Debbie advocates daily for Native Americans. Who is advocating for multiracial families? I started pondering and thinking deeply about this back in February. I began researching for a blog post. I emailed various bloggers, authors, and publishers. I asked questions of trend spotters.

I’m not alone.  The Washington Post’s Nevin Martell is a freelance writer who blogged asking, “Where are all the interracial children’s books?”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/01/20/where-are-all-the-interracial-childrens-books Unless you directly have an interest and have biracial/multiracial/interracial children, it appears you don’t care.

My problem is that there is no one out there tracking or looking for any trend on multiracial characters in literature. Over twenty years ago I began pleading with authors like Laurence Yep and Ed Young to please write for my sons and for our future blended generations. One year I was ranting about this and Arnold Adoff spoke up and said, “Honey, I get this.” (Have I mentioned again how much I adore that man?!) The number of blended children increases. The number of books with their faces and their families doesn’t.

Cynthia Leitich Smith has some blog posts where she explores Interracial Family Themes in Picture Books and an excellent introduction to the topic of exploring multi-racial families. Throughout her blog as Cynthia explores diversity, I feel like I could curl up and chat with her about these issues openly for hours.

The blog Brown Baby Reads keeps us current about books with African American children and gives me some hope with their list of Books about Multiracial Children & Families. The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom has some children’s books featuring interracial families. If you are seeking to adopt a child or explain a multiracial adoption, there is a short list here Multiracial Diversity Books for Adopted Children.

I keep searching for other blogs, but I need your suggestions. In 2010 there was a post “Books with Biracial Children” but it looks like it’s archived and not updated at http://4bedtimestories.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/books-with-biracial-children/ There is an extremely confusing list from GoodReads that I wouldn’t depend upon. Maybe some library student can undertake this project.

One of the best discoveries while researching for this article was The Grio Raising biracial kids in 2013: The challenges and the opportunities for the African-American community by Suzanne Rust | August 5, 2013 http://thegrio.com/2013/08/05/raising-biracial-kids-in-2013-the-challenges-and-the-opportunities-for-the-african-american-community/ I quote: “As more African-American women are considering marrying outside their race than ever, and 25 percent of black men married interracially in 2010, issues relating to how their children will be treated and perceived are paramount.” It goes on to explore the topics of being “other”, the census and having to choose a category, and racial profiling.

book cover for The Case for Love

The Case for Loving

One of my favorite books this year was The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls. If I’d known I was leaving my school, I wouldn’t have donated all my copies and would have kept one to take with me to my new school!  Scholastic publishers description:

This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court — and won!

Yesterday, NPR recognized Loving Day with this broadcast:

When I moved my family to Nashville in 1997, one of my young co-teachers was chatting with me one day at dismissal when a mixed family was picking up their child. She suddenly mentioned how she was from Mississippi and she was sorry, but that just didn’t set right with her. I looked at her and said, “You do realize my last name is Chen, right? My husband was Chinese. I have two half Chinese sons. They are absolutely beautiful and their is nothing wrong with that.” I don’t think she ever recovered from that moment and transferred midyear. I never treated her badly and did try to show her through love and kindness that my children were a beautiful blessing, but I have always wondered if her views on life have changed.

Forcing me to finish this blog post is the upcoming ALA Conference in San Francisco where Diversity is being celebrated in many ways. Today Jason Low, Lee & Low Books emailed out congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera the first Latino U.S. Poet Laureate, and their  Diverse Summer Reading Lists from LEE & LOW BOOKS.  They included a link to a Proportional Perspective Infographic on the world’s native languages. While Chinese continues to be the most populous, I laugh at the irony that my alma mater in Iowa is disbanding their program where I studied modern languages with an emphasis on Chinese and a minor focus in Spanish. Such lack of vision but they’ll save money.

Don’t miss Publisher Jason Low’s Ignite Session on Diversity’s Action Plan onSaturday, June 27 at 11:30AM in the Moscone Convention Center room 130 (N).  Want more diversity? Here’s a list of more diversity-related programming and events happening at the show. LEE & LOW BOOKS will be located at booth #1020. I continue to admire their publishing efforts and support them as often as I can in spreading the word.

One new book on my list to gift is I am Mixed. If you go to the link http://www.amazon.com/Am-Mixed-Book/dp/0578110873, you will see some excellent other suggestions below to accompany this list.  I wanted to include a picture, but Amazon only had an image to the Kindle edition. Great reviews even from Susan Graham of projectrace.com

New Year, New Job, New Excitement

  • Posted on June 13, 2015 at 11:15 AM

The News is Out! After four years at Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary School, I am moving back to middle school. I am now the new school librarian at Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee. Thrilled, excited, anxious to get to work, sad to leave my old school, and so happy to think about the faces of my former students when they see me at their new school. Those are just some of my emotions. It took three car trips to take my things across the street and a mile down the road, and I was moved out in a morning.

Communication. One of the first things I did was set up my new twitter page @mybaileylibrary

I’m hoping that will be an inclusivemakersp1makersp2 twitter handle that will spark students and teachers to use next year as we spark our conversation on books, technology, and STEM.

When I walked in the library, I was excited to see a MakerSpace in place. The possibilities! The ongoing collaboration with Vanderbilt University Scientists. It’s going to be such an exciting new year.

Book Collection. I’m already identifying areas of improvement where I hope I can make a difference right away. For example, I happened to walk by the 793-799 section (sports, music, fun) and only found 1.5 shelves of books as you can see in the illustration to the left. When I first went to Cotton, I had the same exact sce793-799nario. By immediately purchasing some sports titles, I was able to engage new readers. Even though I will be at a STEM school and will focus on STEM titles, I won’t neglect student interests. This shelf happened to be right beside the door so I want it to draw student’s attention. 

Programming. I’m putting up the big calendar and planning for the next year so there’s something exciting to look forward to. I am so fortunate to be able to chat with the former librarian to be able to continue the exciting projects from last year. Since the students were so enthusiastic about Battle of the Books and other monthly contests, let’s have a student advisory group. 

Phrases to Validate Readers

  • Posted on June 6, 2015 at 9:15 AM

“Thanks for reading that to me. You may have saved my life. ”

“Wow! I’m glad you caught that. Something terrible could have happened.”

Seem overly dramatic? What if you didn’t read the prescription label and took someone else’s pills or the wrong amount? You could die. What if you didn’t read the label printed inside your car door or on your tire and over inflated your tire? It could explode. Or in the case of my ex-husband, you could put 70 pounds of pressure in a tire in winter and have no traction at all on ice – causing us to go careening across the road into a deep ditch.  Reading is a vital activity that saves lives and is a necessary skill.

Often librarians emphasize how good reading makes you feel, but as teachers we need to help children and young adults understand that all types of reading are valuable. The ability to read car manuals, road signs, driver’s education training materials, car purchasing documents, and insurance papers is important. I took my sons with me to the store to teach them how to look up my car model and locate the parts I needed. This is an essential reference and research tool. It requires reading. Yes, some computer programs now can do this, but its much faster if you are standing in an aisle and can flip to the chart and scan along the page to your model. We even would have races against the computer to see who could find the right part first.

The ability to read cook books, food labels, warning labels on cooking pans and oils, and recipes online is important. Teaching children how to read the labels on boxes to see how many ounces of jello are in the box compared to how many they need in the recipe then teaching them how to compute changes are valuable hands-on-skills parents need to be involved in. These are teachable moments when a simple comment on the importance of being able to scan quickly can be effective.

A trend in schools is to focus on social and emotional learning (again). This week I will spend two days on Restorative Practices and focus on SEL. While I am thinking about student’s emotional well-being, I am also thinking about their needs to validate their reading abilities and their recognition of when they are reading. Not just when they are novel reading, but when they are “vital reading.”

Please continue to leave comments of positive phrases to promote reading.

Sea Rex by Molly Idle

  • Posted on June 6, 2015 at 8:47 AM

Molly Idle has created a fun summer read for our dinosaur loving PreK-first grade crowd with Sea Rex

cover of Sea Rex by Molly Idle

Sea Rex by Molly Idle

published by Penguin Random House. Cordelia returns as she heads to the beach with her friends and her beach safety tips. I love the image of T. Rex applying sun screen with his teeny tiny arms.

The smooth sunny illustrations have a sandy quality that drew my fingertips to touch to make sure there was no texture on the page. This has vaulted to my favorite summer 2015 sharing pile because it draws children in with its subtle use of humor, open space, a soothing summer palette of sea colors, and well-placed funny touches that the reader can discover on his or her own. Sea Rex respects readers to enjoy reading and devouring pictures without someone cutting them up for them into bite sized pieces. Take as big a bite as you want and enjoy.

I read Sea Rex four times before I wrote about it because there was so much to discover. My only regret? I love the cover illustration so much and it doesn’t appear inside the book. There are many more wonderful illustrations inside, but I was left wondering if there wasn’t a story behind it’s not being inside. Did Molly create the cover illustration at the request of the publisher? Who wrote the hyperbole about the book? “What could that be down in the sea? Is it a fish? A snail? A mermaid’s tail? No, it’s bigger than that . . . a LOT bigger . . . it’s Sea Rex!” It almost seems like the cover and overview are talking about one book and the inside story focus is of another. Tell me I am being too picky and just move on. It doesn’t take away from the fact that I love this book and it’s simple embracing of the sandy joys of the beach.

Factoids:  Hardcover ISBN 9780670785742; 40 Pages; 26 May 2015; Viking Books for Young Readers; 3-5 years

Creating a wishlist of products

  • Posted on June 2, 2015 at 9:45 PM

An interesting trend among blogger friends has been the group creation of their wishlists of products. Tools keep evolving. From those little paper slips posted in your local stores, to sophisticated social media tools like teacherlists.com, donorschoose.org, teacherwishlist.com, and http://classwish.org. Using Mr. Linky and Pinterest, teachers are finding ways to share images of products they like. I’m going to add a board on my Pinterest account called “Supplies for School I Want” https://www.pinterest.com/dianerchen/supplies-for-school-i-want. Please help me find super cool products you think I should add.

Disclaimer: I love purple and if I have a sample to showcase, it’s going to be in purple or turquoise. Bwahaha

CALA Book Awards

  • Posted on May 31, 2015 at 11:16 PM

From tonight’s press release: The Chinese American Librarians Association is proud to present the winners of the 2014 CALA Best Books Awards. This award aims to promote awareness of the best books about Chinese topics or literature written by authors of Chinese descent, in English or in Chinese that have been published in North America. There are four categories: “Fiction”, “Nonfiction”, “Juvenile Books (Age 12-18)” and “Children’s Books (Age 12 and under)”, and the winners are:

Fiction
Two Sons of China, by Andrew Lam (Bondfire Books)
Decoded, by Mai Jia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu (Tor Books)

Non-Fiction
Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves, by Peipei Qiu, with Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei (Oxford University Press)
Contemporary Chinese Art, by Wu Hung (Thames & Hudson)
The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, by Louisa Lim (Oxford University Press)

Juvenile Books (Age 12-18)
The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Sonny Liew (First Second)
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier, by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Compestine (Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS)

Children’s Books (Age 11 and under)
Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments, by Emily Jiang (Lee & Low Books)
The Year of the Fortune Cookie, by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Patrice Barton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Honorable Mention
Mei-Mei’s Lucky Birthday Noodles: A Loving Story of Adoption, Chinese Culture and a Special Birthday Treat, by Shan-Shan Chen and Heidi Goodman (Tuttle Publishing). Reached 1176 people in CALA Facebook by May 28.

The winners will be invited to attend the CALA Annual Award Banquet on Sunday, June 28, in San Francisco, CA. Each winner will receive an award certificate to be presented at the Banquet during the CALA/ALA Annual Conference.

Introductions and reviews of the winning books can be found at: http://cala-web.org/node/2067.

Information on more nominated titles have been posted to CALA Facebook in the whole month of May (https://www.facebook.com/pages/CALA-Chinese-American-Librarians-Association/281336511932864).

Thank you,

CALA 2014-2015 Best Book Award Committee

Sai Deng (co-chair) saideng@gmail.com
Jia Mi (co-chair) jmi@tcnj.edu
Judy Jeng jeng.judy@gmail.com
Haiying Qian QianH@lincolnu.edu
Xiaoyan Zhou x.zhou@brooklynpubliclibrary.org

GEMS of STEM

  • Posted on April 14, 2015 at 9:35 PM

This year I am so excited with the behind the scenes and not-so-directly-in-the-classroom activities that have occurred at my school and in the library. One of the most exciting has been our creating a GEMS club at our elementary school. What is a GEMS club, you ask? Well, despite my well-known passion for all things rock, mineral, fossil, and gem, this is a club of Girls Excelling in Math and Science.GEMS11-29-14sm.341103853_logo

I’m not the first club, oh, no! GEMS is the brainchild of Laura Reasoner Jones. Visit the official website http://gemsclub.org and you will be amazed at the power at your fingertips. These organizers have put everything you could need there for you to download to implement your own club. 

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Dr. Benoist and Dr. Hamann

I discovered the GEMS website while Dr. Caroline C. Benoist and I were seeking a way to start a science club at our STEM elementary school. We wanted to include all the elements of STEM, but we also wanted to inspire girls to try more experiments and make science their career. As soon as we learned about GEMS, we were able to download their free guide, send invitations to girls in third and fourth grades, contact parents, plan our first experiments and hold our first GEMS club meeting within ten days. We hooked in another scientist Dr. Bree Hamann and my best friend/colleague/P.E. teacher/Biology major Deborah Weakland and we were set. I approached the principal for permission armed with facts and figures, stories of the importance of girls being involved in science and math activities for fun, goals, etc. but as soon as I said, “We want to start a girls’ science and math club…” She said, “Of course, go for it. We’re a STEM school.” I didn’t even need to pull out all the research and persuade her. 

We’ve offered two separate four week sessions of GEMS to involve as many girls as possible since January. We have had 30 girls involved and the program will be expanding in the fall. We’ve conducted experiments with surface tension, ARC’s, catapults, exploding ziplock bags (chemical transformation), climbing spiders (friction), throwing eggs at the building (in their protective designs), and have been visited by the local STEM high school to demonstrate and show off some of the exciting things waiting for them down their educational road. 

Set up a planetarium in your library

Set up a planetarium in your library

IMG_0106

IMG_0107 Less than two minutes later. It was deflated and ready for packing.

 Along the way we brought in guest speakers at our school like Erica Grundstrum (Dr. G), from the  Fisk-Vanderbilt Astronomy Roadshow Planetarium. She brought with her a mini-planetarium we were able to set up in our school library. I was amazed how easy it was to set up and take down. 

Dr. Benoist and I planned a presentation for district school librarians so they could start their own GEMS club. This is available at  http://tinyurl.com/GEMSofSTEM I hope that some of you will check it out and offer to lead your own GEMS club in your school library next year. We know we are making a difference because students are writing scientifically for the Budding Scientist journal, plus they are identifying themselves as scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. I overheard a girl asking her friend if she was going to GEMS club this week. She replied, “Of course because I am a GEM!” She’s right in every aspect of the word. I’m so grateful to be able to offer this opportunity to our students.

Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour Stones for Grandpa

  • Posted on February 16, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Stones_Cover

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries since 1968, the award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category.

For 2014 younger readers, two Honor Books were selected, both published by Kar-Ben a division of Lerner Publishing Group: Stones for Grandpa by Renee Londoner with illustrations by Martha Avillés and Rifka Takes a Bow by Betty Rosenberg Perlov with illustrations by Cosei Kawa. I am pleased to share Stones for Grandpa and my interview with illustrator Martha Avillés.

The illustrations show a balance of love and loss, of joyful memories and sad moments missing grandpa. As you were composing your illustrations, did you have personal memories that inspired your art?
Of course I did, this work was a trip into my memories but was, too, one way to think in the present – a time of thinking in the way that I am in the life of the persons that I love. This work took me to remembering the legacy of my grandmother, everything that I shared with her and the presence that she has in my life. For me, work on this book was like having a long conversation with my grandmother.

Could you explain your illustration process? How long did contemplating and planning your illustrations take? 

The working time was around 7 months. First, I read the text again and again. After reading: PARALYSIS, I don’t draw, I start to search and see the images in my head all the time (while I walk, cook, see books, ate or sleep) But one day, all of it appears in my head, and this is the moment to sit down and draw. Draw again and again to call the characters, until they decide to walk from my heart to my hand. There, one day, they ARE ! The process at this point acquires a bit of magic, the characters start to tell your story, they have done themself almost alone. One scene and other, the characters are telling me their scenarios, their positions and expressions, they are alive and talking. In this way I finished the stage of drawings.

stones1_web

Now starts the color stage after I have received the comments and approval to go to finals from my editor. In this  time, I feel absolute TERROR, it is the most difficult time for me. It is the harder and longer process, these take 4-5 months. This is a time of loneliness with music, readings and meditation; a time of “fight” where I always lose, but it gives me a profound transformation and an unwavering desire to follow, insisting, trying to find just that I want to tell with the images.

Did one particular illustration become your favorite or the most challenging? gives me a profound transformation and an unwavering desire to follow insisting, trying to find just what I want to tell with the images.

stones2_web

These illustrations were done with acrylic on cotton paper. My favorite are two: the first one is where the child is in his bedroom because there is a moment of maximum privacy: only him and his memories.

The other is the last page: because there is a moment of maximum complicity that shows a live dialogue between the child and his grandfather (in this image there is not death, there only are love and life).

What are your recommendations for great Jewish kids lit? Stones4_web
I personally admire the loyalty of the Jewish to their traditions. I think these are fertile soil to strengthen ethical and spiritual values that lead to sensible and conscious human beings .

What trends do you see coming our way?
I think there is a need to retrieve the values of children and youth formation, and I think that Classics, tradition and myth are a source of such values, which are of vital importance to underscore the significance of life and the self-being. On the other hand, I see that there are some opportunities in the production of playful publications for adults, if there are illustrated books for children, why not for adults? In this area, I think that it is necessary to break the paradigm by creating products that refresh the traditional concept of books for adults.

What are your next steps in your career? Martha_Aviles_Photo
To work more with children than for them. Recently, I have had meetings with groups of K-8 grade students to share my experiences, and the result has been, for them and for me, of transforming wealth. I want to create through my work a space for playful and creative dialogue with children.

What does the Sydney Taylor award/honor mean to you?
At a personal level the award gives me joy and a dose of unexpected affection. Professionally, it promotes the awareness and outreach of the book. The true value of the award is to enable the “message in the bottle” to reach many ports, and touch the heart and curiosity of more children and also a more diverse audience.

Will anything be different now that your work has been recognized by the Sydney Taylor Book Award?
I am not certain of the meaning of this award for a Children’s Book Illustrator in the US, but for me working from Mexico it means a different opportunity to connect with kids or diverse cultural groups in the US through the illustration. This award strengthens my confidence in the work I do and my love for it, as well as the joy with which I do it.

Stones3_web

Thank you for sharing such an absolutely beautiful story through your illustrations. I believe you have provided all parents of any religion a story to share, to help grieve, and to go on living with happy memories. My favorite illustrations are the ones that show grief through solitary tears on the family members while you can tell they are remembering happy times and celebrating the life of their beloved grandfather.

Be sure to visit the Association of Jewish Libraries blog and the official Sydney Taylor site. Below is the schedule for the 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave them plenty of comments!

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2014 Renee Londner, author of Stones for Grandpa Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category At The Write Stuff

Martha Aviles, illustrator of Stones for Grandpa Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category here at Practically Paradise

Aline Sax, author, Caryl Strzelecki, illustrator, and Laura Watkinson, translator of The War Within These Walls Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category At The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, Research

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2014 Laurel Snyder, author of The Longest Night Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category At Geo Librarian

Catia Chen, illustrator of The Longest Night Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category At Holy Sparks

Robyn Bavati, author of Dancing in the Dark Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category At Bildungsroman

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2014 Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category At Randomly Reading

Carol Matas, author of Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category At Pen and Prose

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014 Cosei Kawa, illustrator of Rifka Takes a Bow  Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category. At Jewish Books for Children

Elisabeth Leyson, contributor to The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible…on Schindler’s List Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category. At The Interlace Place

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2014 Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of The Blessing Cup. Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category. At Ann Koffsky’s Blog

Quick note on Book not to Miss

  • Posted on January 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

As I am waiting for my plane to ALA Midwinter, I realized I had not shared one of those special titles that should be in all upper elementary and middle school collections. Author John P. Stanley released Mickey Price Journey to Oblivion this September. The publisher is Tanglewood. I noticed that many reviewers miss titles from Tanglewood and this one is an excellent science fiction  title that realistically shares a space Cover of Mickey Pricemission that COULD have happened in history.

While reading this title, I was reminded of the Princess Bride and the first time I saw it as a movie. A grandfather is sitting and reading a story to his cranky grandson. He has to sell this book because the grandson is rather skeptical. In Mickey Price Journey to Oblivion we have the point of view of a father sharing a “true” story of his past with his equally skeptical children. The story alternates between a scientific fantasy tale of children who saved the space program with their fantastical journey to the moon, and the father’s discussion with his children years later. Some reviewers thought it was confusing, but this is an excellent way to introduce point of view. I’d love to see it made into a movie.

The space exploration aspects from the early days of travel are well-written. Students at my STEM school love the title because it opens dreams to them of possible futures. It is an exciting story that manages to weave some true facts of space exploration and may trigger historical research. Making the journey to the moon and astronauts traveling in space exciting is a worthy endeavor. I had to purchase three copies to satisfy the demand. Imagine what will happen when just one teacher reads it aloud!

The characters reminded me of those in The Mysterious Benedict Society, but were more realistically depicted. Orphans, geniuses, students with unusual abilities and learning styles being celebrated and learning how to work together. Every gifted and talented teacher should add this to their class collection, also.

Here is the publisher’s description:

The moon is under threat of a nuclear meltdown due to a space station malfunction. Complicating things is the presence of pleurinium, a magnetic material that makes humans instantly, seriously ill – well, all humans who are 14 years old and up.

Mickey Price is an orphan in Orlando; Trace Daniels is a go-kart champion in Nevada; Jonah Jones is a budding scientist in Illinois. They don’t know each other, but they are all being watched and studied by men in white shirts, thin black ties, and distinctive gold-colored sunglasses. The three kids are invited to a NASA camp, but this camp isn’t for summer fun. It’s a training camp for a mission full of dangers that will test each of them to the maximum, but it’s also an adventure full of thrills, fun, and some unexpected companions, not all of whom are human.

Seeking test banks of Information Literacy & library focused question

  • Posted on January 11, 2014 at 4:37 PM

While assisting teachers with instructional design and putting together my pacing guides for this semester, I realized that I spend far too much time reinventing the wheel. There are many school librarians out there who have developed test banks of questions for use with programs like Examview, Smartboards, Promethean boards, CPS clickers, Promethean clickers, etc. Where are these and why are they so difficult to find?

If the nation has a “common core” of state standards, there should be some consistency in the items we assess. Rather than just waiting around anxiously for the PARCC assessment, we should be actively defining and pinpointing the most important areas. Why should it only be businesses that generate test questions? I’m currently waiting for the ability to input reading textbook questions into our teacher’s libraries. Why should I have to wait to assess this using a narrow focus of text?

Librarians can help teachers by creating banks of questions to integrate into basic information literacy instruction. I’m not advocating for any more paper tests, but I am looking for quick questions that other librarians use to do on-the-fly or formative assessment. If I want to be sure students know the difference between primary and secondary sources, wouldn’t five well-developed questions be helpful?

The Library of Congress Summer Institutes have been announced so I spent time today writing my application and minimizing my answers to 500 characters. I’d like to know if anyone has already developed a tool like this to make my instruction easier. I can go to PrometheanPlanet.org to download flipcharts created by teachers and librarians,  but they aren’t specific enough to directly correlate with what I teach in the library. The TRAILS test is essentially a test bank of questions that can be used, but the level of assessment is higher than my beginning learners are prepared. I need something easier, broader, and for younger learners. Any ideas?